Corporate Board Gender Diversity – U.S. Chain Restaurant Industry


According to a recent study by Harvard Business Review, females are one of the most powerful economic forces in the world. In the United States, women make up more than 50% of the population and account for over 80% of consumer spend. If this is the case, why do so few females occupy seats in the corporate boardroom?

In the 2015 Aethos Consulting Group™ Corporate Governance Study of the chain restaurant industry, we identified an astoundingly low number of women executives serving as corporate board members. Of the top 45 public U.S. chain restaurant companies, a woeful 18% of board seats were occupied by women.

  • Nine of the forty five restaurant chains had NO females serving as board directors
  • Fifty one percent (51%) of the peer group had only one female board director
  • Of the 392 seats available, amongst the top 45 U.S. public restaurant chains, only 69 seats were occupied by women

Results are not much better when you review other segments of the business. According to a recent study conducted by New York based law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP, women comprise just slightly more than a fifth of the 1,210 board seats at 100 of the largest U.S. public companies; a Spencer Stuart analysis of the S&P 500 index show similar results – 80% of board seats are held by men.

All news is not bad news on the restaurant front, as several restaurant group boards have a healthy gender diversity mix:
Aethos™ Corporate Governance Study_Board Gender Diversity_US Chain Restaurant Industry

Credible studies by McKinsey & Company and Boston Consulting Group indicate that greater gender diversity in the board room leads to improved financial performance. Personally sitting in on countless client board meetings, I can attest to the fact that gender diversity leads to a more productive exchange and collaboration of ideas. Bottom line, there is too much brand homogenization within the chain restaurant industry, and we need to import fresh ideas and strategies. Organizations that want to set themselves apart need to get serious about this issue.